Lawmakers Call for Probe of White House Threats

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Republican lawmakers are calling for an investigation into reports that in order to muscle Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) into voting for the Senate’s version of health care reform, the Obama administration threatened to close a key air force base in Nebraska.

Even though the White House is vehemently denying that it threatened Sen. Nelson, The Dakota Voice is reporting that twenty Republican senators have called for a hearing on the matter and have sent a formal request to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

“It has been reported that the Obama Administration threatened the closure of a U.S. military installation for political purposes, thereby bringing into question the integrity of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process,” their letter reads.
“Therefore, we respectfully ask that a hearing be held as to whether the BRAC process has been compromised. . . . We also do not want our bases to be more vulnerable to closure because political arm-twisting has taken another installation off the table. National security not partisanship should determine how BRAC decisions are made.”

The news caused shockwaves throughout the state of Nebraska, particularly in Bellevue where the base, which employs more than 10,000 people is located.

Both the White House and Nelson are denying any such threat ever existed.

“This rumor is absolutely false, as the people spreading it well know,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “This is nothing but a cynical, crass political game that is designed to maintain the status quo.”

The reporter who broke the story, Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard, is standing behind his source.

“I do not know this story is “absolutely false.” To the contrary, I’m confident it’s true. Twenty senators are now calling for an investigation, and each is presumably pretty well sourced in the Senate. If the charges are “absolutely false,” maybe the White House will encourage Senate Democrats to call this Republican bluff. I won’t hold my breath.”

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